Cardinal Gerhard Müller Reflects on the Synod on the Family

Participates in Round Table Discussion on Two Week Meeting at Regina Apostolorum

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The first phase of the Synod has ended and now its the time for Post-Synodal reflections, to which is entrusted the task of translating, in the living fabric of the community of the faithful, the many issues that arose during the two week meeting.

A testimony of the fruitfulness of ideas that emerged at the Synod was given in the course of the round table discussion: “The Hope of the Family – The Synod and Beyond,” held on October 21, 2014 at the European University of Rome (UER), in the within the meetings organized by the “John Paul II Cultural Circles.”

The round table discussion was introduced by Antonio Gaspari, Editor-in-Chief of ZENIT News Agency, who, after the open greeting, presented the panel: Cardinal Gerhard Ludwig Müller, Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith; Bishop Luigi Negri, President of the John Paul II International Foundation for the Magisterium of the Church; Monsignor Livio Melina, President of the John Paul II Pontifical Institute for the Study of Marriage and the Family, and Costanza Miriano, journalist and writer.

Gaspari explained that the framework of the conference is Cardinal Müller’s book entitled “The Hope of the Family,” published by Ares Editions. The conference was also an opportunity to clear the misunderstandings and provocations that surrounded the work of the Synod.

“One of the central points of the text is the subject of Faith. We live in an age of secularization and incredulity, which have weakened the sacramental perception,” Cardinal Müller explained. The German prelate cited several papal texts, including Pope Francis’ encyclical “Lumen Fidei,” dedicated to the subject of Faith, and the Pastoral Constitution, and  “Gaudium et Spes,” one of the most important documents of the Second Vatican Council that addresses the subject of the dignity of matrimony and of the family.

Cardinal Müller quoted a passage from the preface of his book written by Cardinal Fernando Sebastian, which states:  “In the Sacrament of Matrimony the Christian faithful, man and woman celebrate, with the Church, faith in the love of God present and operating in them as members of the Church and collaborators of God  for the multiplication of humanity and of the Church of salvation.”

“This book is a contribution to rediscover the beauty of Christian matrimony,” concluded Cardinal Müller.

Father Jesus Villagrasa, L.C., Rector of the Pontifical Athenaeum Regina Apostolorum, greeted the public and the reporters briefly and then gave the floor again to the experts.

Journalist Costanza Miriano began with an affirmation connected with her experience as a mother and her Catholic belief: “Mercy is all right for the divorced, but it must also be given to the children. There is little talk of them, but they are the first victims when the parents go their seperate ways,” she said.

The journalist then explained that her activity leads her to meet many families, and this has reinforced her conviction that “Christian morality is not comparable to bourgeois morality.” The latter constructs its “catecheses” based on television and film models: models that generate disappointment. “True love is founded on Christ and the ‘literacy’ of love belongs only to the Church.”

In thanking Cardinal Müller for his book and for the courage he demonstrated in it, Monsignor Livio Melina recalled a concept of Blessed Paul VI: the Church does not invent her doctrine but is its interpreter and custodian. To one who solicits a review of the cornerstones of the Faith to render it adaptable to our times, the Church can only answer: “Non possumus!”, We cannot! – confirmed Monsignor Melina.

“Cardinal Müller”, he continued, “argues the inalienable bond between truth and practice. Doctrine would become abstract and practice arbitrary if the Church did ‘end of the season discounts,’”. Mercy cannot be an instrument to resolve contingent difficulties: parents are concerned with educating, even if at times they are constrained to say things that seem, at times, disagreeable to the children.

The Synodal journey will last yet a year, and Cardinal Müller will be “a certified compass not to get lost in weak thinking,” concluded Monsignor Melina.

Monsignor Luigi Negri expressed his gratitude to Cardinal Müller for the book “The Hope of the Family” which he described as “thought-provoking and purposeful for the future.”

“The crisis of our time coincides with the crisis of the family, which expresses the crisis of modern man: the relentless fragmentation of life in a context of conflicting opinions. Man’s commitment against his instinct fails; reality is reduced to a series of manipulated objects according to rules of a technological character, while the sense of mystery disappears,” explained Monsignor Negri.

The prelate quoted philosopher Jacques Maritain , according to whom “modernity is the unmotivated and ideological struggle between reason and mystery.” Monsignor Negri continued, affirming that the “new” today is based on a concept that has already failed, on an anthropological revolution that, having demonstrated its inconsistency, cannot be assumed as an instrument of innovation. In Cardinal Müller’s book, the experience of marraige is instead based on human love and  on the “gratuitousness” and not on “convenience”.

‘The seed of new life must be educated on the basis of Faith according to God’s thought, not on that of the world. The future is ours in the measure in which we are capable of reading the Christian vocation in its profoundness,” concluded Monsignor Negri.

The panels’ interventions were welcomed with applause from the participants who crowded the Great Hall of the University.

In his cclosing remarks, the Rector of the UER, Father Luca Gallizia, L.C., expressed special gratitude for this occasion of reflection:  “A reflection that will continue the whole year, while our first task continues to be prayer, that the Holy Spirit may guide the Church,” he added.

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Massimo Nardi

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